By: AL-NW FL PGA
Hoover, AL (May 14, 2019) — According to a study conducted by the World Bank and the Wall Street Journal, the average human will encounter approximately 80,000 people during the course of their lifetime. It is up to us how we use that precious time with the people we encounter.
All of those who have played the game of golf, whether it’s for recreation or for a living, have most likely encountered one of the almost 29,000 PGA Professionals who work daily to grow the game of golf. A PGA Professional is a unique breed – compassionate, joyful, hard working, a coach, a teacher, a friend. It’s not a stretch to describe Eric Eshleman, PGA Director of Golf at the Country Club of Birmingham, with these traits. In fact, it wouldn’t even scratch the surface on a long list of qualities that make up the Pro’s repertoire.
As the recipient of the Alabama – NW Florida PGA’s Professional of the Year in 2017, and the head man at one of the most prestigious clubs in Alabama, Eshleman wears a lot of different hats serving a membership that boasts 45,000 rounds over two golf courses and countless other club programs every year, and, not to mention, the 2,000 lessons given by the Professional staff. It’s safe to say Eshleman encounters more people than the average human. Even in all this, he still has the ability to make everyone feel like they’re the most important person in the world – something so rare yet so important.
One of those many hats Eric wears is stepping in to the role of caddie once a year at the PGA Tour Champions Regions Traditions Celebrity Pro-Am for none other than former U.S. Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. A golf enthusiast for over fifteen years, Rice, now serving in multiple faculty positions at Stanford University, has been receiving lessons from Eshleman for over seven of those fifteen years.
We were able to catch up with Secretary Rice and Eshleman at this year’s Pro-Am on their relationship and what it means to be in each other’s company for this special day every year:
“He’s a terrific pro,” says Rice. “He’s brought me all the way from a 30 to a 13 [handicap]…he takes you from where you are, and he gives you a game that you can work with and get better at over time.”
According to Forbes magazine, Dr. Rice was named in the top ten most powerful women in the world for five years in a row (2004 to 2008). Needless to say, she impacts probably a few more people than the average human as well.
Eshleman has been caddying for Secretary Rice for as long as he has been giving her lessons. “It’s a super fun day for me,” says Eshleman. “What I love about all of it the most is just how down-to-earth she is and how easy it is to have a normal conversation with her.”
It’s no secret that PGA Professionals all across the world impact thousands of lives every day. What is most captivating about this is not just what a PGA Professional does for others, but how they actually go about doing it. Rice says that Eshleman is no exception to this, “It’s great having Eric on the bag for this every year…he has such a calming influence when you’re out here playing and he always knows exactly what to say.”
The game of golf can be a great equalizer for so many – people from all backgrounds learn the game through PGA Professionals every day. It begs the question, how are you going to stand out among the 80,000 people others meet in their life? What kind of relationship do you want to have with those you encounter? For Eshleman and Secretary Rice it’s clear their relationship goes far beyond the golf course.
ABOUT THE REGIONS TRADITION
The Regions Tradition is an event on the PGA Tour Champions tour. First staged 30 years ago in 1989, the PGA Tour recognizes the event as one of the five senior major golf championships. In addition to the performance on the course, the Regions Tradition prides itself on giving back. Since the tournament became Regions Tradition in 2011, the event has raised over $4.5 million for area charities and more than $17 million since the tournament’s inception in 1992. Children’s of Alabama serves as the primary beneficiary of the tournament.
ABOUT THE ALABAMA – NW FLORIDA PGA
The Alabama – NW Florida PGA is one of 41 Sections that make up the PGA of America. Our Section is headquartered in the Birmingham suburb of Pelham, Alabama at Ballantrae Golf Club. Established in 1969, the Section consists of over 400 Members and Associates in the state of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The Section exists to support its Members who are the driving force to growing the sport and business of golf.